Though there have been many imitators since, both good and bad, there is only one Die Hard. The simple yet thrilling action film finds John McClane (Bruce Willis) taking on an army of mercenaries in a Los Angeles skyscraper during an office Christmas party.
The film is still considered perhaps the greatest action film of all time. While the set pieces and gunfights are great, Die Hard is also a brilliantly written script. Along with the tight pacing, the movie is filled with great one-liners that are still quoted by fans to this day. Here are a few of the best quotes from the original Die Hard.
Updated on February 1st, 2021 by Scoot Allan: While 1988's Die Hard has become an action classic over the years due to the breakout performance of Bruce Willis as '80s tough guy John McClane, who packed as much punch with his quips as he did with his fists, he wasn't the only character in the film with memorable dialogue. Willis was joined by a fantastic cast that included Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber and Bonnie Bedella as Holly Gennero McClane, whose unforgettable quotes all contributed to making the original Die Hard such a hit that launched a successful and long-lasting franchise whose fantastic quotes we'll be exploring a bit further today.
15 "Does it sound like I'm ordering a pizza?"
McClane struggled to find outside assistance after Gruber's elite team of thieves were able to take control of Nakatomi Plaza completely, which included the security team and phone lines that restricted outside communications.
When McClane finally did reach the police department, he was warned away from using that line as it was reserved for emergencies, which led to one of Mclane's most sarcastic, expletive-laden responses in the film as he began to reach his boiling point.
14 "Only John can drive somebody that crazy."
McLane was only in Los Angeles at the Nakatomi Plaza's Christmas party hoping to reconnect with his wife, Holly, who had moved to the city with their children for work which furthered the divide between husband and wife.
After Gruber had taken control of the party and Holly began to see the stress develop in her captors, she realized that it was McClane who was causing them problems, as she was all too used to those same feelings and knew that John was about to make their lives a living nightmare while also saving the day.
13 "Oh, you're in charge? Well, I got some bad news for you Dwayne, from up here it doesn't look like you're in charge of jack s***."
When John McClane finally received assistance from the police on the ground thanks to Sgt. Powell, the arrival of Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson led him to attempt to take control of the situation and he began to bark orders at McClane through the common radio.
McClane quickly put him in his place and let him know that he was still on the ground and removed from the situation while the real guy in charge was on top of things and taking down the thieves from the inside.
12 "I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite."
The back and forth between John McClane and Hans Gruber made for some exciting confrontations between the two powerful men as they struggled for control of the tense situation, though there were quite a few captivating conversations between Gruber and Holly Gennaro as well.
When Holly called Gruber out for being "nothing but a common thief," Gruber's demeanor immediately changed and he took offense for the first time that evening, though he quickly set the record straight to defend his honor as a world-class thief.
11 "Just a fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the ass."
Never has John McClane described himself as well as he did during his discussion with Hans over the walkie-talkies, that he used to not only learn about Gruber's plans at Nakatomi Plaza but to also get under the skin of his opponent.
However, there are quite a few people who would agree with McLane's description from across the franchise, beginning with his superiors on the police force to his various allies across the films, not to mention the various bad guys he's tangled with over the years.
10 "He Won't Be Joining Us For The Rest Of His Life."
Bruce Willis' John McClane might be the face of the franchise, but it could be argued that the first film truly belongs to Alan Rickman's villainous Hans Gruber. Rickman helped create a new take on the classic villain as a smooth, charming yet ruthless foe who is just as compelling as the hero of the film.
After executing Mr. Takagi, head office boss, Gruber explains in a deadpan matter-of-fact way how he tried to reason with the man. He says, "Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way... so he won't be joining us for the rest of his life."
9 "No Relation."
Gruber and his goons are the true villains of the movie, but there are plenty of immoral side characters who cause McClane a lot of problems. As the hostage situation escalates, the FBI is called in and we are introduced to the cold and unheroic agents Johnson and Johnson.
The agents, one an older white man and the other a younger Black man, provide an unusual and unexpected comic relief. Right away, we get a sense of their oddness as the younger Johnson introduces them, "I'm Agent Johnson, this is Special Agent Johnson. No relation."
8 "Hans, Bubby, I'm Your White Knight."
Ellis is the typical slimy dirtbag from 80s action movies who you just know is doomed. Ellis is one of Holly's more obnoxious co-workers and is constantly trying to pick her up, despite the fact that she is married to John.
After doing a bit of cocaine, Ellis gets the brilliant idea that he will negotiate with Hans for their release. The scene is darkly funny as Ellis continues to act obnoxiously, oblivious to the fact that Hans is going to shoot him at any moment.
7 "Come Out To The Coast, We'll Get Together, Have A Few Laughs..."
Part of what makes John McClane such a great hero is seeing how much he is struggling. He is not the usual tough guy we see in these movies who walks into a gun fun without flinching. He gets hurt, he gets beat up, and he is tired. The last thing he wants to be doing is having to save the day.
One scene that best sells this trait of his is the iconic air vent scene. After finding himself crawling through a tiny vent system to escape the bad guys, McClane takes some time to complain to himself. It's a great human moment from our hero.
6 "For There Were No More Worlds To Conquer."
Though he is a murderous thief, it's hard not to want to watch a whole movie about Hans Gruber. As soon as he arrives, he is a captivating presence and you cling on to every word he says.
As he has his private meeting with Mr. Takagi, Gruber looks over the models of the various building projects for the company. He says "And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer." It is another example of Gruber as the more sophisticated villain than we usually see in action movies.
5 "We're Gonna Need Some More FBI Guys, I Guess."
Aside from John McClane, Die Hard seems to be filled with incompetent police officers. The dimmest of them all is Dwayne Robinson, the man in charge. From the start, Robinson shows his instincts as a cop as quite lacking.
As the situation gets worse, Robinson is in over his head, always one step behind everyone else. As the bad guys blow the roof of Nakatomi Tower, the helicopter carrying the FBI agents goes up as well. Stunned, Robinson is just concerned with getting more FBI guys so he doesn't need to be in charge.
4 "If This Is Their Idea Of Christmas, I Gotta Be Here For New Year's."
Argyle might not be the most helpful character in the movie, but he is a fun sidekick. Argyle is introduced as the noisy but friendly limo driver who takes McClane to the Christmas party. He proceeds to wait for McClane in the building's parking garage, largely oblivious to the hostage situation above.
However, when the ordeal is over, Argyle shows up at the perfect time to whisk John and Holly away from the mayhem in style. He even gets the fitting final line of the movie, remarking "If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Year's."
3 "Welcome To The Party, Pal."
Along with being more of an everyman than the regular action heroes, McClane is also entertaining for being somewhat deranged. We get hints that he might be a bit of a problem cop back in New York and he quickly confirms that.
McClane has no regard for playing nice with the bad guys. As a cop circles the building below, McClane takes drastic measures to get his attention. He proceeds to throw one of the dead bad guys out of the office window and down onto the cop car. He then yells, "Welcome to the party pal!" suggesting he really is a madman.
2 "Now I Have A Machine Gun. Ho Ho Ho."
McClane is not content with beating the bad guys, he also wants to taunt them. Even as he hides out in the building, McClane makes his presence known after killing the first bad guy. In another example of his deranged mind, McClane dresses the dead man up as Santa and writes a message on his shirt: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."
This is a moment that makes us cheer for McClane even more as he is willing to threaten the bad guys and let them know he's out there waiting for them. It's also a nice use of the movie's Christmas theme.
1 "Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf*****."
Not only is this the most memorable line in Die Hard, but it is also one of the most iconic movie lines of all time. The unforgettable moment comes when McClane and Gruber first talk over walkie-talkies. After Gruber dismisses McClane as a wannabe cowboy, McClane responds with this epic send-off.
It is such a beautiful and badass line that makes you want to cheer. Though the line has been shoe-horned into every Die Hard sequel, nothing can take away from the perfect use of it in the original. It is a line that has helped the movie become so iconic.